Stroll though your local drugstore and you’ll find a rainbow of boxes promis- ing instant transformation. The allure of home hair color is obvious: it seems fast, convenient and cheap. You may never cut your own hair, but you’ve probably tried to save a few dollars by tossing a box of drugstore color into your shopping cart.
Trouble is, you may waste money and time in the long run.
It’s almost impossible, for starters, to predict whether the color will flatter you.
“Let’s say you like a certain red,” says Michael McDonough, a Matrix expert who trains professional colorists.
“Just because you think that red might be pretty, it may be completely wrong for your skin tone.”
Nor can you be sure you’ll end up with the shade on the box, because you don’t know what the model’s hair looked like to begin with. “Was it originally light brown? Medium brown? That difference is crucial to the result,” McDonough says. “It’s a puzzle, and if you’re missing one piece the color will look wrong.”
A salon pro knows details most of us don’t. These include the nuances between your hair’s heat and cold zones (fun fact: hair nearest the scalp is called the heat zone, because of the warming effect of your body temperature; if it’s unaccounted for, you risk artificial-looking color), how your hair’s texture dictates the amount of dye it absorbs and how to prevent overlapping color.
But if you dye at home, your hair may end up too dark, too orange, patchy or damaged. Your ends may be a different tone than your roots. Do-it-yourself highlights may be unevenly placed, too light or not light enough—and, as a result, look completely unnatural. No wonder a leading box-color brand survey recently found that half of women were unhappy with their color two weeks after dyeing.
That unhappiness sends a lot of women to salons for correction. Fixing home dye gone awry can cost three times what you’d have paid to have it done profession- ally in the first place. (That is, if it can be fixed at all. “Sometimes we can’t budge it,” McDonough says.)
A salon colorist will customize a shade that flatters your skin and eyes, and devise maintenance and touch-ups that accom- modate your budget and lifestyle.
“We can work together to create the look that works for you,” McDonough says. “The box has limits. A stylist doesn’t.”
Learn About The Hair Book